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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

MRP and Missing Data Question

Andy Timm writes: I’m curious if you have any suggestions for dealing with item nonresponse when using MRP. I haven’t seen anything particularly compelling in a literature review, but it seems like this has to have come up. It seems like a surprisingly large number of papers just go for a complete cases analysis, or […]

About those claims that the election forecasts hurt the Democrats in November

One reason that I’m skeptical of these claims of depressed voter turnout is that I’m old, and I remember the 1980 election. People blamed the Democrats’ poor performance in the west coast on the fact that the election had been called for Reagan before the polls had closed in those states. So the message seems […]

4 years of an unpopular Republican president –> bad news for Republican support among young voters –> continuation of unprecedented generation gap –> I’m not sure what this implies for politics

We hear from Ole Rogeberg on occasion: 2009: Taking Absurd Theories Seriously: Economics and the Case of Rational Addiction Theories 2011: Descriptive statistics, causal inference, and story time 2012: Scientific fraud, double standards and institutions protecting themselves 2013: Struggles over the criticism of the “cannabis users and IQ change” paper 2015: Cannabis/IQ follow-up: Same old […]

When does a misunderstanding reach the point where it is recognized to be flat-out ridiculous?

James Lasdun reviews a book by Ariel Sabar telling the story of a conman who sold a fake Bible-related document to a Harvard professor, leading to academic publications and media publicity before the whole thing fell apart. The most amusing of many amusing bits: An Egyptologist at Brown University, Leo Depuydt, found a ‘colossal double […]

Impressions of differential privacy for supreme court justices

This is Jessica. A couple weeks ago Priyanka Nanayakkara pointed me to the fact that Alabama is suing the Census Bureau on the grounds that by using differential privacy it is “intentionally skew[ing] the population tabulations provided to States to use for redistricting” and “forc[ing] Alabama to redistrict using results that purposefully count people in […]

Your tax dollars at work (junk social science edition)

A couple people pointed me to this article: With this sort of work, I always wonder whether people who do this sort of thing really believe what they’re doing, or if they’re purposely complexifying things, the way that in chess you might try to make the board position more complex if you’re down a couple […]

2020: What happened?

Yair Ghitza and Jonathan Robinson write: Based on our analysis to date, the following are our 10 big takeaways for election results for the top-of-the-ticket presidential race: 1. This was the most diverse electorate ever. The voting electorate continues to become more diverse, and 2020 was the most racially diverse electorate ever. This was due […]

2 reasons why the CDC and WHO were getting things wrong: (1) It takes so much more evidence to correct a mistaken claim than to establish it in the first place; (2) The implicit goal of much of the public health apparatus is to serve the health care delivery system.

Peter Dorman points to an op-ed by Zeynep Tufekci and writes: This is a high profile piece in the NY Times on why the CDC and WHO have been so resistant to the evidence for aerosol transmission. What makes it relevant is the discussion of two interacting methodological tics, the minimization of Type I error […]

Raymond Smullyan on Ted Cruz, Al Sharpton, and those scary congressmembers

Palko shares this fun logic puzzle from the great Raymond Smullyan which also has obvious implications for modern politics: Inspector Craig of Scotland Yard was called to Transylvania to solve some cases of vampirism. Arriving there, he found the country inhabited both by vampires and humans. Vampires always lie and humans always tell the truth. […]

Postmodernism for zillionaires

“Postmodernism” in academia is the approach of saying nonsense using a bunch of technical-sounding jargon. At least, I think that’s what postmodernism is . . . Hmm, let’s check wikipedia: Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from […]

Whassup with the weird state borders on this vaccine hesitancy map?

Luke Vrotsos writes: I thought you might find this interesting because it relates to questionable statistics getting a lot of media coverage. HHS has a set of county-level vaccine hesitancy estimates that I saw in the NYT this morning in this front-page article. It’s also been covered in the LA Times and lots of local […]

When can a predictive model improve by anticipating behavioral reactions to its predictions?

This is Jessica. Most of my research involves data interfaces in some way or another, and recently I’ve felt pulled toward asking more theoretical questions about what effects interfaces can or should have in different settings. For instance, the title of the post is one question I’ve started thinking about: In situations where a statistical […]

“Off white: A preliminary taxonomy”

Lots has been written on this topic (“How the Irish Became White,” etc.), but this post by Paul Campos is an amusing starting point. As he points out, we often think about race/ethnicity/nationality in the context of U.S. politics, but it’s an issue, one way or another, pretty much everywhere in the world.

Is it really true that “the U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal since the early 1900s—even surpassing the calamity of the 1918 flu pandemic”?

tl;dr. No, it’s not true. The death rate increased by 15% from 2019 to 2020, but it jumped by 40% from 1917 to 1918. But, if so, why would anyone claim differently? Therein lies a tale. A commenter pointed to a news article with the above graphs and the following claim: The U.S. death rate […]

Can you trust international surveys? A follow-up:

Michael Robbins writes: A few years ago you covered a significant controversy in the survey methods literature about data fabrication in international survey research. Noble Kuriakose and I put out a proposed test for data quality. At the time there were many questions raised about the validity of this test. As such, I thought you […]

One reason why that estimated effect of Fox News could’ve been so implausibly high.

Ethan Kaplan writes: I just happened upon a post of yours on the potential impact of Fox News on the 2016 election [“No, I don’t buy that claim that Fox news is shifting the vote by 6 percentage points“]. I am one of the authors of the first Fox News study from 2007 (DellaVigna and […]

Questions about our old analysis of police stops

I received this anonymous email: I read your seminal work on racial bias in stops with Professors Fagan and Kiss and just had a few questions. 1. Your paper analyzed stops at the precinct level. A critique I have heard regarding aggregating data at that level is that: “To say that the threshold test can […]

A fill-in-the-blanks contest: Attributing the persistence of the $7.25 minimum wage to “the median voter theorem” is as silly as _______________________

My best shots are “attributing Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo to the second law of thermodynamics” or “attributing Michael Jordan’s 6 rings to the infield fly rule.” But these aren’t right at all. I know youall can do better. Background here. For some relevant data, see here, here, here, and here. P.S. I get it that […]

In making minimal corrections and not acknowledging that he made these errors, Rajan is dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying problem, which is that he’s processing recent history via conventional wisdom.

Raghuram Rajan is an academic and policy star, University of Chicago professor, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and former chief economic advisor to the government of India, and featured many times in NPR and other prestige media. He also appears to be in the habit of telling purportedly data-backed stories that aren’t […]

State-level predictors in MRP and Bayesian prior

Something came up in comments today that I’d like to follow up on. In our earlier post, I brought up an example: If you’re modeling attitudes about gun control, think hard about what state-level predictors to include. My colleagues and I thought about this a bunch of years ago when doing MRP for gun-control attitudes. […]

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